With Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010), James Franco in Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) and now Angelina Jolie in Maleficent, Disney is clearly working to develop a new aesthetic for its fairytale franchises, blending live-action and digital animation in highly stylised settings.

maleficentAngelina Jolie as 'Maleficent'

Some 75 years ago, Disney established the look of family movies, starting its series of animated classics with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. Along with films like Pinocchio (1940), Bambi (1942), Cinderella (1950), Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Sleeping Beauty (1959), these are considered classics of the genre. So it's no wonder Disney is working to re-establish itself at the leading edge of family filmmaking.

Yet while these new movies represent the pinnacle of production design and digital trickery, critics have noted some more cynical sides to them, including unnecessary 3D conversions that merely raise box office receipts without adding anything much to the imagery.

More: read our full review of 'Maleficent'

Even more troubling is the revisionist screenwriting, which actually subverts the classic fairytales to make movies that are more blockbuster in nature, adding massive action sequences while blurring character motivation. But audiences don't seem to mind the simplistic plotting and dialogue.

So there are already others in the pipeline, with next year's Cinderella now filming in Britain with Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter. After that, Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter will be back for Alice Through the Looking Glass. And can a new take on Snow White be far behind?

More: watch the trailer for 'Maleficent'